Sen. Susan Collins has been named top Republican on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the annual budget for the Department of Defense.

Wednesday morning’s announcement confirmed reports from last October that Collins, who has served on the full Senate Appropriations Committee since 2009, was in line for the top Republican defense spot.

“As the Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will work hard to ensure that the highly skilled employees at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have the resources they need to build and maintain our Navy fleet,” Collins said in a press release. “I will continue to work to strengthen our critical defense industrial base, which is essential to ramping up production of materials urgently needed to support Ukraine’s efforts against the brutal Russian attacks and to deter China.”

In addition to her new leadership role on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Collins recently took over as vice chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Former Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama previously held both positions.

Collins is one of three Maine delegates serving on key defense committees. Sen. Angus King, I, and Rep. Jared Golden, D, sit on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, respectively.

Maine’s representatives frequently highlight their work securing the defense contracts that ensure a steady stream of work for Bath Iron Works, a key economic driver in the state.


“Sen. Collins’ knowledge of defense issues and her experience helping ensure our military personnel have the resources they need make her an ideal choice for this critical committee assignment,” BIW President Chuck Krugh said in a statement. “This role enables Sen. Collins to continue to represent the interests of the people of Maine in vital matters of national security.”

The next few years could bring pivotal change for both local shipbuilders and the Navy as a whole.

Last summer, BIW won a contract to help design a next-generation destroyer that could one day be constructed in Bath. Defense experts said the success of that project is critical after the abandonment of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer in recent years.

Collins, who last week criticized the Biden administration for not more quickly shooting down a Chinese spy balloon over the United States, has called for expanding the U.S. fleet to keep up with adversaries like China, which could have 35% more warships than the current U.S. total by 2025, according to Pentagon estimates.

“The escalating aggression by Russia in Europe and China in the Pacific underscores the need to focus on our shipbuilding program,” Collins said in December. “Increasing the size of our Navy fleet prioritizes our national security and supports the hardworking men and women at BIW who construct the world’s most capable and technologically advanced ships.”

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