WASHINGTON: US congressional leaders and the White House agreed on Tuesday (Apr 21) on nearly US$500 billion more in COVID-19 relief for the US economy, and President Donald Trump urged them to pass it quickly before beginning discussions on another.
The deal provides US$321 billion for a small business lending programme, US$60 billion for a separate emergency disaster loan programme also for small businesses, as well as US$75 billion for hospitals and US$25 billion for national coronavirus testing, a senior Republican congressional aide said.
The Senate was expected to vote on the plan later on Tuesday, and the House of Representatives later in the week, most likely on Thursday.
Congressional leaders had said they were very close to an agreement on legislation to provide more money to help small businesses, after an initial US$350 billion fund was quickly exhausted.
The bill agreed on Tuesday would be the fourth major piece of legislation passed as the federal government seeks to ease the heavy economic and personal toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 42,000 Americans and left more than 22 million people out of work.
Trump said he backed the legislation, and urged lawmakers to act quickly. He said talks would begin after its approval on more relief, including funds for state and local governments reeling from steep revenue losses due to the virus, and infrastructure spending that Democrats have been requesting throughout the crisis.
"After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief to State/Local Governments," as well as infrastructure investments, the Republican president wrote on Twitter.