While everyone was occupied with averting the “fiscal cliff” – the expiration of another law vital to the health and wellbeing of Americans went under reported: the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA.
The VAWA was left to expire at the end of the 112th congressional session. The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives never let it come to an end-of-the-year vote. Therefore, women are left without legal protections.
The Bill was drafted in 1994 by then-Sen. Joe Biden, and provides federal resources for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. A bill to reauthorize the law was approved earlier in the year with bipartisan support in the Senate, but House Republicans objected to amendments in the law that would have expanded protections for illegal immigrants, Native-Americans and members of the LGBT community.
In a statement last week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the Republicans’ failure to take up and approve the bill “inexcusable,” noting that it had passed the Senate with 68 votes. “This seems to be how House Republican leadership operates,” she wrote. “No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”
There are many who feel that the law’s expiration seemed to escape the attention of many major news outlets, which has motivated some media watchdog groups to speak out. Zachary Pleat of Media Matters for America wrote that news programs on the major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – have completely ignored the story.
According to Pleat, a search of LexisNexis transcripts over the past month showed that “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.”
Jeanne Brooks, digital director of the Online News Association, told IBTimes on Thursday that she had begun tweeting about the lack of coverage late in the evening last Wednesday. Not every major media outlet has been silent on the subject – MSNBC covered the story extensively. And many other online and smaller outlets covered the issue as well, including the Huffington Post, Business Insider, Daily Kos and women’s magazine websites such as Ms. and Cosmopolitan.
Sen. Murray wrote a blog post on CNN.com stating that the law’s expirations will have “real-life implications for women who now find themselves with nowhere to turn for help.”