U.S. lawmakers are close to an agreement on a $450 billion package to help small businesses and hospitals in the latest move to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Senate could vote as early as Tuesday on the legislation.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said if the Senate gives its approval Tuesday, the House “could meet as early as Thursday” to consider the bill.
The majority of the money would be targeted at small businesses that missed out on an earlier pool of rescue money.
Under that program, if a business used the aid to pay employees during the next two months then the government will assume responsibility for the costs and the business will not have to pay it back.
Officials want to help people stay employed and have businesses as ready as possible to ramp up their activity when it becomes safe for customers to return.
The governors of several U.S. states have announced plans to begin relaxing stay-at-home orders, including some beginning next week.
Some states have seen small protests calling for a return to regular economic activity.
But the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned Monday that those who are ignoring the stay-at-home orders could be hurting the chances for economic recovery.
“Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going happen,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show. “So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike (in more coronavirus cases), you’re going to set yourself back."
Trump has praised the protesters, saying that some governors “have gone too far” in imposing restrictions.