Commentators continue to debate whether Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd’s decision to retire makes it more or less likely that legislation overhauling financial regulation will be enacted.   

The Hartford Courant sees it as a plus – or at least its editors do. The paper ran an editorial over the weekend saying, “relieved of the need to raise money and to campaign during the next 10 months, Mr. Dodd — one of the Senate's most effective insiders — can fully concentrate on his legislative agenda.

Dodd himself is encouraging this view. In a letter published in the Hartford Courant the same day, the senator said, “I decided that I wanted to spend my last year in the Senate fully focused on the difficult challenges we still face, and the years after this one seeking out new opportunities to make a difference in my state and my country.”

But the editorial and Dodd’s letter were at odds with the Hartford Courant’s own reporting last week that the fate of the bill is “all the more unclear as Dodd becomes a lame duck.”

Some commentators focused on the likelihood that Dodd would be forced to compromise on some of the most controversial aspects of the legislation.

The Boston Globe said Dodd’s lame-duck status “could imperil prospects for including a stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection Agency in financial regulation legislation, even as it improves the odds for reaching a compromise with Republicans for an overall bill.”

And Crain’s New York said the senator’s retirement “is a welcome development for both the nation’s most powerful banking regulator, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and its toughest, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chief Sheila Bair,” since Dodd’s reform bill would strip the Fed and FDIC of most of their power to oversee banks.

Others were merely hopeful that Dodd’s planned exit will make him a more effective legislator. An editorial in the Washington Post said the senator’s decision injects “a new element of uncertainty into the congressional negotiations over financial regulatory reform ... Perhaps Mr. Dodd's retreat from politics may make a compromise more feasible, but that is just a hope. This is still an election year.”

A New York Times editorial said “Dodd may be a lame duck. But he is still chairman of the committee. That gives him a formidable bully pulpit. He should use it.“

Other commentators said the Senator’s impending departure makes him less effective.

A Wall Street Journal editorial said, “Republicans now have a much stronger hand to reject Mr. Dodd's blueprint for financial reform.”

Roll Call said, “Congressional Republicans and financial services lobbyists alike hope Dodd’s retirement “will not blow up bipartisan banking reform legislation this year.”