US President Donald Trump (R) answers questions from reporters as Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx (L), Director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation at CMS Brad Smith (2nd L), and Assistant Secretary for Health admiral Brett Giroir listen during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 20, 2020 AFP
U.S. congressional leaders and the White House agreed on Tuesday on nearly $500 billion more in coronavirus relief for the U.S. economy, and President Donald Trump urged them to pass it quickly before beginning discussions on another.
The deal provides $321 billion for a small business lending program, $60 billion for a separate emergency disaster loan program also for small businesses, as well as $75 billion for hospitals and $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 $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.