Schneider, Claudine (1947—)

views updated

Schneider, Claudine (1947—)

U.S. congressional representative (1981–1990). Born Claudine Cmarada in Clairton, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1947; attended the University of Barcelona, Spain, and Rosemont College in Pennsylvania; Windham College in Vermont, B.A., 1969; attended University of Rhode Island School of Community Planning; fellow at Harvard University Institute of Politics, 1990s.

A U.S. congressional representative from 1981 to 1990, Claudine Schneider devoted her energies to environmental and scientific issues,

sponsoring or co-sponsoring significant pieces of legislation and gaining recognition for her involvement with the effort to slow global climate change and for her familiarity with environmental problems generally. After an unsuccessful Senate run in 1990, Schneider emerged as a prominent educator and consultant.

Born Claudine Cmarada in Clairton, Pennsylvania, in 1947, Schneider studied at the University of Barcelona in Spain and at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. from Windham College in Vermont in 1969, and after that attended the University of Rhode Island School of Community Planning. Schneider became interested in environmental problems in the 1970s, serving in a variety of governmental and private administrative positions in which she not only learned about the environment but also gained political contacts and influence. She founded the Rhode Island Committee on Energy in 1973, became executive director of the Conservation Law Foundation in 1974, and was named federal coordinator of the Rhode Island Coastal Management Program in 1978.

A late 1970s stint as producer and host of a public affairs television program in Providence, Rhode Island, helped to place Schneider's face and voice before the public. She drew on this influence to challenge incumbent Democrat Edward Beard for election to one of Rhode Island's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1978. She lost, but two years later she won a rematch with Beard and took her seat in January 1981 as the first Republican elected to the House from heavily Democratic Rhode Island in more than 40 years.

Schneider served on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and on the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, and in 1983 joined the House's Select Committee on Aging. Like many other Republicans from the New England states, Schneider sometimes took progressive stands at odds with other members of her party, and she carried forward the commitment to the environment that she had developed in the 1970s. Schneider was a key player in the effort to stop construction of a controversial nuclear power project, the Clinch River reactor, and worked to ban ocean dumping of medical waste and industrial byproducts. In 1989, she introduced legislation to establish a national energy policy aimed at the reduction of "greenhouse" gas emissions believed to contribute to global warming. She also worked to improve U.S. relations with the Soviet Union in the waning days of Communist rule there, and her efforts resulted in an unprecedented live satellite television transmission linking members of Congress with the Soviet Union's top legislative body. Schneider was given an Emmy award for the nationally broadcast television programs that followed.

In 1990, Schneider challenged entrenched Rhode Island Democrat Claiborne Pell for election to the U.S. Senate and was defeated. In the 1990s, after profiting from a fellowship at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, Schneider became a member of the faculty of Harvard's prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was also named chair of the board of Renew America, an environmental problem-solving organization, started an energy efficiency enterprise in Latin America, and lectured and worked as a consultant on such diverse issues as strategic military planning, climate change, alternative health care, and leadership training for women.


Global Climate Change Digest. April 1989.

Office of the Historian. Women In Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

James M. Manheim , freelance writer and editor, Ann Arbor, Michigan

About this article

Schneider, Claudine (1947—)

Updated About content Print Article