The 222-205 vote was mostly along party lines, The Washington Post reported. Democrats pushed for a bill that passed the Senate 68-31 last month with support from 14 Republicans.
The Senate bill includes a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal grants under the act and provides more visa assistance for illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, as well as a provision allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic abuse on tribal lands.
Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., a former Orange County sheriff's investigator, suggested Democrats are trying to politicize the bill. She was the GOP version's lead sponsor.
"As we look to reauthorize VAWA, we want to make sure that we're not politicizing this issue but just reauthorizing it," she said. "Look at the bill and what it is in it, you'll see that it's centered around our victims."
Before the vote, Democratic leaders and women's activists criticized the bill.
"House Republicans have again decided to pursue a partisan, ideological agenda at the expense of the safety of America's women, children and families," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., posted on her Web site Tuesday.
Lisalyn Jacobs, an official with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, called the measure "an extremely dangerous bill" that victims' rights advocates should avoid, Roll Call reported Wednesday.
The White House has threatened to veto the House bill.
The Republicans' concerns got a boost by a Congressional Research Service report stating that under a Senate-passed version of the bill the "Constitution will not apply" for prosecutions of U.S. citizens for domestic violence crimes committed on tribal lands.
The tribal issue is the trickiest of three main concerns voiced by a coalition of advocacy groups, Roll Call said.
The two other concerns are that the House bill would change provisions in current law concerning domestic abuse of illegal immigrants, and that it would not include new provisions for protection for gays, lesbians and transgender people that are in the Senate bill.