The US Senate approved a bipartisan, nearly half-trillion-dollar relief package on Tuesday, with funding earmarked for devastated small businesses, overwhelmed hospitals, and a ramp-up of testing nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The essential job-saving measure, which passed by unanimous consent after more than a week of negotiations between Democrats, Republicans and the White House, now heads to the House of Representatives where a vote could occur as early as Thursday.
The effort is the government's latest massive cash infusion to prop up a collapsing economy amid struggles to contain a pandemic that has killed 43,000 Americans and left some 22 million people jobless.
This is a significant package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, one which was cobbled together on a crash timeline in these most unusual circumstances.
The measure builds on the US$2.2 trillion rescue legislation - the largest-ever federal intervention in the US economy - signed into law last month.
President Donald Trump called on Congress to swiftly send him the bill, which would re-fund a program that has already helped more than 1.6 million businesses, so he can sign it into law.
I urge the House to pass the bill, and they'll be voting on it, I imagine, very soon, he said.
Late last month, with many shops and restaurants nationwide forced to shutter due to the pandemic, the government launched the PPP to provide US$350 billion in what were essentially grants as long as businesses use the funds to pay their workers.
Banks were flooded with requests, and the money quickly ran out.
The new tranche would include US$320 billion in small business funding, plus US$75 billion for hospitals and US$25 billion to expand coronavirus testing, McConnell said.
It also provides US$60 billion in disaster recovery loans and grants, he added.
We have taken a giant step forward towards providing more relief for small businesses and for first responders in hospitals, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.