By Alexandra Alper
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House leaders said they had reached a bipartisan deal to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank and increase its lending cap to $140 billion in 2014.
The deal, negotiated by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, came weeks before the bank's temporary charter was set to expire.
The nearly 80-year-old government bank provides direct loans and credit guarantees to help U.S. exporters make sales in markets that private lenders consider too risky to operate on their own. Boeing Co is the bank's biggest customer and many other U.S. manufacturers also rely on its services.
Efforts to renew the Export-Import Bank's charter ran into objections from conservative Republicans, who say it is unnecessary government interference in the market. Delta Air Lines had raised concerns, saying it has been hurt by low-interest Export-Import Bank loans to foreign carriers.
On Friday, Republicans and business groups alike praised the deal.
"Action on this agreement is necessary to promote American exports and remove a threat to the creation of American jobs," Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement. He said he supports the agreement and urged all members to support it.
(Additional reporting by Doug Palmer)