The Senate passed legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday after voting down five amendments that would have limited the program’s scope and power.
The passage of the bill, in a 78-20 vote, sends the legislation to President Obama, who is expected to sign the reauthorization, which runs through September 2014.
The reauthorization also ends an unexpectedly long fight on Capitol that divided the Republican Party.
The Export-Import Bank is generally considered a noncontroversial bill, but it came under attack this year from conservatives who argued it was a form of corporate welfare that distorted free trade.
The Club for Growth was among the groups that urged Republicans to oppose reauthorizing the bank’s charter. Ninety-three Republicans voted against the reauthorization in the House, and 19 Republicans voted against it on Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also voted against the bill.
“We need to end the corporate welfare that distorts the market and feeds crony capitalism,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a floor speech. Lee sponsored one of the amendments that sought to impose restrictions on the bank.
“The corporations that largely benefit from the Ex-Im bank should have no trouble marshaling their resources to compete in today’s economy. If they are struggling, then they are most likely not deserving of taxpayer help,” Lee said.