Now that lawmakers have gone on the record on the issue, Republicans can return to their districts in the campaign's homestretch with a political weapon in hand. They can claim they are working to keep the country safe. They also can make the oft-repeated Republican argument that Democrats are weak on security and, perhaps, aiding terrorists.
That approach was obvious when House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Democrats who opposed the legislation voted in favor of more rights for terrorists. "The same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled if we followed the Democrat plan," Hastert said.
"The speaker is a desperate man," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responded, criticizing Hastert for having to "stoop to that level."
Republicans hope that keeping the focus on national security - traditionally a party strength - will help them retain control of Congress as the GOP did in 2002 and 2004. Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate to take over. Polls show the public favors putting Democrats in charge.
Siding with Senate Republicans on the terrorism bill were 12 Democrats, including a few up for re-election and one in an especially close race.
Of the 34 House Democrats who broke with Pelosi and voted against the terrorism legislation, eight are in highly competitive races and also sided with Republicans two weeks ago by voting in favor of erecting 700 miles of double-layered fencing along a third of the U.S.-Mexico border.
And This of course:
The U.S. Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill for tough interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects, as President George W. Bush prevailed after a series of setbacks on his detainee policies.
The Senate passed the bill 65-34, hours after Bush was on Capitol Hill urging Republicans to stay behind the high-profile measure ahead of November 7 elections that will determine control of Congress.
Oh, I forgot about that pesky election thing.
How do you think Bob Corker and Harold Ford Jr would have voted?