WASHINGTON, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate is expected to approve a 2-trillion-U.S.-dollar stimulus package later Wednesday to blunt the economic impact of COVID-19, after days of strenuous negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
"The Senate will pass the bill today," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on the Senate floor as the upper chamber convened around noon to consider legislation.
Calling it an "emergency relief," the Senate Republican leader lauded bipartisan efforts to improve the bill from the draft version, which was unveiled Thursday.
The White House and Senate leaders reached a deal early Wednesday morning on the massive stimulus package, which is aimed at cushioning the economy from the growing impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
"This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
"We fought to send much-needed resources to fight coronavirus and to put people and workers first. The agreement now reflects those priorities," said Schumer.
The revised proposal will provide business tax-relief provisions, loan program for small businesses, direct financial aid to airlines, 1,000-plus dollar check for working Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, as well as more support for hospitals and state and local governments.
The White House had originally proposed a 1-trillion-dollar stimulus package, but several rounds of negotiations among lawmakers have ballooned the cost of the package to roughly 2 trillion dollars.
U.S. Congress is under mounting pressure to quickly pass the massive stimulus package and calm the markets and the public, which are rattled by the spread of the coronavirus.
The United States reported more than 55,000 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday noon, ranking third worldwide, behind China and Italy, according to a data tracking tool developed by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has exceeded 800.