The US Senate has voted in favour of the reauthorisation of the US Export-Import Bank (US Exim), which will see the bank’s charter extended through to September 2014 and its lending cap raised to US$140bn.

The approval comes after months of debate, with many conservative Republicans wanting to close the bank down arguing that the institution was offering a form of “corporate welfare”.

Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the US Exim believes the reauthorisation of the bank will ensure that it continues to play an important role in supporting US exporters, particularly when there is a lack of commercial funding. It will also keep US exports competitive.

“Senate passage today of the bipartisan bill to reauthorise US Exim sends a strong message to American companies and workers, as well as foreign customers and competitors: the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our businesses as they sell high-quality goods and services around the globe,” comments Hochberg.

“The bank will continue to play a critical role in our economic recovery at no cost to the American taxpayers,” he adds.

Senate approval follows approval by the House of Representatives on May 9.

The bank’s cap limit will initially be raised to US$130bn at the beginning of October this year, and increased to US$140bn the following October. The bank’s charter expired on September 30 last year, and it has been running on temporary authority since October.

US Exim provides financing for US exporters by providing funding or guarantees to support the financing of US export contracts. In 2011 overall authorisations made by the bank hit US$32.7bn, supporting US$40bn in export sales and 290,000 American jobs at 3,600 US companies, according to the bank.

Recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Commerce Department has revealed that the US exported US$186.8bn in goods and services in March 2012. President Barack Obama set a target in 2010 to double US exports by the end of 2014.