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Interview With Former R.I. Congresswoman Claudine Schneider

Raymond Baccari

Anchor Staff Writer

Photo by Raymond Baccari

PROVIDENCE, R.I., -- Former Rhode Island Congresswoman Claudine Schneider, was the first, only woman to represent Rhode Island in Congress. From 1981 to 1991, she represented Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District as a Republican. During an interview earlier this month, Schneider spoke on a wide range of topics including; what she has been up to since her time in Congress and the current state of the Republican Party going into the 2022 and 2024 elections.

After she left Congress, Schneider taught leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. In addition, Schneider also started consulting for corporations and utility companies such as National Grid, to help them to reduce their greenhouse gases. Schneider says doing climate mitigation work influenced her decision to move to where she currently resides, which is in Colorado.

The partisan gridlock is more apparent than ever before in Congress, and Schneider says it was significantly different during her time there. When asked what she misses the most about her time in Congress, she said, “What I miss the most, is the hearing process. I had the opportunity to meet the best and the brightest in so many different fields that were true problem-solvers.”

Schneider enjoyed her time in Congress and served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries and Science, Research, and Technology Committees. She said there isn’t anything she didn’t enjoy in Congress when asked about what she doesn’t miss about her time there.

During her time in Congress, Schneider founded a group called ‘Republicans for Integrity.’ The group advocates for issues such as addressing climate change, which was one of the biggest issues she focused on as a member of Congress.

“Yes, climate change should be at the top of every Republican’s agenda because the environment, climate, and the health of all the people on this planet are at stake.” Schneider said when asked if the issue of addressing climate change should be on the Republican Party’s agenda.

Schneider also pointed out that this issue has become a partisan one, primarily because Republicans that ignore this issue, receive the most money from the fossil fuel industry.

She continued, “The Rhode Island Lung Association will tell you without a doubt that the increase in asthma and other respiratory diseases has an awful lot to do with the air that we breathe as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. So to play politics with this is detrimental to the welfare of all people. And that is what Republicans are currently choosing to do.”

Issues like climate change, are ones that are not as popular with most Republicans, specifically those who are in the increasing pro-Trump wing of the party. On the topic of factionalization within the GOP, and what kind of Republican she considers herself, Schneider aligns herself more with moderate Republicans like Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Schneider said, “The reality is that the Trumpsters who seem to have bullied their way into the party, and no longer like the concept of the big tent and inclusivity have lost all the basic principles and values that our constitution articulated.”

Schneider said the future of moderates in the Republican party are uncertain, she stated, “One thing is very clear, we will continue to vote for the best candidates regardless of their party. If it’s a Republican like Romney, great, if it’s a Democrat like Joe Biden, we will support Joe Biden, and if it’s an independent, there too, we will play a role in making a difference to elect the best people we possibly can to Congress.”

Even though Schneider stays active politically whether it is the advocacy of issues through Republicans for Integrity or helping others who she sees as a good candidate. She doesn’t anticipate any potential runs for political office in either Colorado or Rhode Island in the 2022 midterm elections.

The interview can be seen in its entirety here.



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