Network News Shows Ignore House GOP Failure To Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

The news shows of the major networks ABC, NBC, and CBS did not report on the need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired after the House failed to reauthorize it by the close of the 112th Congress on Tuesday. The reauthorization of the law was blocked by House Republicans over provisions that extended domestic violence protection to immigrants, LGBT Americans, and Native Americans.

ABC, NBC, And CBS Failed To Report On Expiration Of VAWA

Major Network Morning And Evening News Shows Did Not Cover VAWA In Month Leading To Expiration. A search of Nexis transcripts shows that in the month leading up to the law's expiration, none of the morning or evening news shows on ABC, NBC, or CBS reported on the Violence Against Women Act and its need to be reauthorized. The search included the shows Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer, Today, NBC Nightly News, CBS Morning News, and CBS Evening News between December 1 and January 2, and found no mention of “VAWA” or “Violence Against Women Act.” [Media Matters search of Nexis transcripts, 1/3/13]

House Republicans Let Violence Against Women Act Expire

House Republicans Failed To Pass Senate's Reauthorization Of VAWA. The Huffington Post reported that the Violence Against Women Act expired on January 2 after House Republican leadership failed to bring the already-passed Senate version of the bill up for a vote:

Despite a late-stage intervention by Vice President Joe Biden, House Republican leaders failed to advance the Senate's 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an embattled bill that would have extended domestic violence protections to 30 million LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants and Native American women.


In April, the Senate with bipartisan support passed a version of VAWA that extended protections to three groups of domestic violence victims who had not been covered by the original law, but House Republicans refused to support the legislation with those provisions, saying the measures were politically driven. Instead, they passed their own VAWA bill without the additional protections. In recent weeks, however, even some House Republicans who voted for the pared-down House bill have said they would now support the broader Senate bill -- and predicted it would pass if Republican leaders let it come to the floor for a vote.

“I absolutely would support the Senate bill,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told HuffPost in late December, speculating that other House Republicans, namely GOP congresswomen, “are very supportive of that.”

Asked if he thought the Senate bill would pass in the House if it came up for a vote, Cole replied, “My judgment is yes.”

Last spring, only two of the 25 House Republican women -- Reps. Judy Biggert (Ill.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.). -- opposed the House VAWA reauthorization, on the grounds that it didn't go far enough. But in the last couple of weeks, some others signaled they would now support the broader Senate bill.

“I think that we should be very open-minded about the Senate provisions,” said Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.).

“I would be in that category of being open-minded to that,” said Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). [Huffington Post, 1/2/13]

VAWA “Has Been The Single Most Effective Federal Effort” To Stop Domestic Violence

American Bar Association Official: “VAWA Has Been The Single Most Effective Federal Effort” Against Domestic Violence. Debbie Segal, chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, said of the act:

“VAWA has been the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country.”


The act has ensured that “legal and social services are available to survivors, and that law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and advocates are well-trained with cutting-edge resources to effectively address these crimes in their own communities.” [American Bar Association Journal, 1/1/12]

Since VAWA's Enactment, Domestic Violence Against Women Has Fallen By More Than Half. VAWA was originally passed in 1994. A report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics noted:

The rate of intimate partner violence against females declined 53% between 1993 and 2008, from 9.4 victimizations per 1,000 females age 12 or older to 4.3 per 1,000. [, The Maddow Blog, 1/2/13; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]

The Number Of Women Killed By Intimate Partners Dropped By 35 Percent Between 1993 And 2007. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “females were killed by intimate partners at twice the rate of males” prior to VAWA.  But in the years after its enactment, those numbers were reduced:

The overall rate of female homicides fell 43% from 4.18 to 2.38 homicides per 100,000 female U.S. residents between 1993 and 2007.

The rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35% (from 1.66 to 1.07 per 100,000 female U.S. residents), while the rate of non-intimate female homicide fell 48% (from 2.52 to 1.31). [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]

Violence Against Men Also Declined After VAWA Was Enacted. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1993 and 2008:

Against males, the rate [of intimate partner violence] declined 54%, from 1.8 victimizations per 1,000 males age 12 or older to 0.8 per 1,000.


Homicide victims killed by intimate partners fell 29%, with a greater decline for males (-36%) than females (-26%).


Between 1993 and 2007 the overall rate of male homicides fell 40% from 14.94 to 8.94 homicides per 100,000 male U.S. residents.

The rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46% ... while the rate of non-intimate male homicides fell 40%. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]

To learn about the widespread opposition to and problems with the House Republican version of the bill that omitted needed protection for abused groups, click here.