The measure passed with backing from most or all Democrats and dozens of Republicans.
Such a dynamic signals the continuing inability of House Speaker John Boehner to marshal his GOP members on some of the most contentious issues coming up, such as deficit reduction and immigration reform.
Boehner risks his standing as a party leader if he continues conceding on measures that become law without majority support from House Republicans, which also would fuel continuing unrest by conservatives who traditionally comprise the GOP base.
According to advocacy groups, the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act approved Tuesday strengthens protections of particular groups of women at particular risk.
For example, one in three native women will be raped in their lifetime, according to the Indian Law Resource Center. Three in five will be physically assaulted, and native women also are killed at a rate 10 times the national average, the center said.
The National Congress of American Indians addressed the issue in a December 20 letter to Cantor.
It described situations in which beatings and rapes by non-native men were declined for prosecution at a federal level and returned to a tribal court as a misdemeanor.
Federal law currently prohibits tribal courts from imposing a jail sentence of more than a year, so they generally do not prosecute felonies. In many instances, such cases are dismissed altogether and a defendant can walk free until a grand jury indictment can be obtained.
"The federal criminal justice system is simply not equipped to handle local crimes, and this is the primary reason that tribes seek local control over these crimes that are plaguing our communities," the letter said.
On undocumented immigrants, Human Rights Watch has found that immigrant farm workers are especially at risk for domestic abuse and argued provisions in the Senate bill "would go some way toward fixing the problem."
Those in the LGBT community are another high-risk group that will be affected by the Violence Against Women Act.
They experience violence at the same rate as heterosexuals but are less likely to report it. When they do, many are denied services.
About 45% of LGBT victims were turned away when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter and nearly 55% of those who sought protection orders were denied them, according to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women.
Vice President Joe Biden, who helped spearhead the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 when he was a U.S. senator, said Thursday that domestic violence dropped by 64% since then.
"I am pleased that this progress will continue, with new tools for cops and prosecutors to hold abusers and rapists accountable, and more support for all victims of these crimes," Biden said in a statement.