After poring through federal budget documents, a 40-year-old nonprofit called Citizens Against Government Waste tallied up all the targeted spending that Congress allocated for specific projects across the nation.

When it was done with its work, the nonprofit declared that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, had pushed through 231 earmarks last year that delivered $576 million to projects in her home state, “by far the highest amount” hauled in by any legislator.

A page from Citizens Against Government Waste’s new “Pig Book” showcases U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ “Whole Hog Award” for bringing home so much federal money to Maine.

The waste fighters gave their “Whole Hog Award” to her in recognition of her success in bringing home the bacon.

Whether she’ll still be able to rake in so much money for Maine, though, is an open question in the wake of news that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky may bump her as the top GOP member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee next year.

Collins, who is the ranking Republican on the panel, may not like the wording of the “Whole Hog” honor, but she’s A-OK with the recognition of delivering so much aid to the Pine Tree State that first elected her in 1996.

“From increasing access to higher education, childcare, and affordable housing to supporting Maine’s working waterfronts, improving our roads and bridges, and promoting economic development, these targeted investments will provide real and direct benefits for communities in all 16 counties,” Collins said when she announced the allocations in March.


“As vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I fought hard to ensure this important funding was included in the final funding bills,” Collins said in the prepared statement.

Collins’ junior partner, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, who is seeking his third term this year, isn’t exactly a piker in securing money for Maine.

He got more money for his state than anyone except Collins and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican. King raked in $454 million for 181 projects, though many of his are also on Collins’ list.

Collins has long pointed to the likelihood that she will someday chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, a key source of funding for generations.

Its leaders have traditionally been among the top senators in securing federal largesse for their home states.

Collins, as its vice chair and most senior Republican, is in line to become the chair next year if the GOP succeeds in its quest to regain control of the Senate.


But her longtime goal may be in jeopardy from an unlikely source: McConnell, who has always worked well with his Maine colleague.

Axios reported last week that McConnell, who has already said he won’t be the Republican Senate leader again after this term, is perhaps eyeing the appropriations panel for himself.

If McConnell wants to bump Collins aside, he can. He has more seniority than she does.

It seems an unlikely move for McConnell, but politics can veer in unexpected directions on occasion.

Most political prognosticators give the Republicans the edge in terms of who will control the Senate next term, but it’s likely to be a close contest that may depend on the outcome of the presidential race.

In any case, Collins has waited a long time to take the helm of the Appropriations Committee so McConnell snatching it from her would be a major and unfriendly move from a man who has usually treated her well.

Annie Clark, the senator’s spokesperson, said the senator “fully anticipates that in the next Congress, she will either be the chair or vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Of course, it is Senator McConnell‘s prerogative to make his own decisions given his seniority.”

It isn’t clear what Collins would do should he seize the leading GOP position on appropriations. She could probably shift to take control of one of the other major Senate committees, but none of them offer the same ability to deliver aid to Maine, which has long been a key source of her political clout.

From Collins’ point of view, she’d like to continue to bring home the bacon.

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