U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced more emergency legislation on Thursday (March 19) to hold back coronavirus fallout in the economy.
The $1 trillion-plus package is the third taken up by Congress since the outbreak erupted in the U.S. So far more than 150 people have died, schools and businesses have shut, and the stock market has been sent into a tailspin.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "These are urgent discussions.
They need to happen at a member level and they need to happen starting right now." The new package would give direct payments to Americans based on their income level.
It would also expand testing for the virus and hiring of healthcare workers.
And - it guarantees loans and subsidies for small businesses, a key Republican constituency.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the proposal had quote, "virtually no input from Democrats," but urged bipartisanship in a difficult time.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "We need to act quickly.
We need to act in a bipartisan way.
I hope the discussions between the various members of the committee will proceed quickly and in a spirit of compromise." Republicans and Democrats hope to reach an agreement on Friday (March 20).
But senior GOP lawmaker Lamar Alexander said a vote could still be days away.
It all comes after President Trump sharply changed his tone on the virus this week, aer having downplayed its risks for weeks.
On Thursday the U.S. also warned Americans against any travel abroad, while the country's own cases have surged well past 13,000.
Meanwhile House leaders are trying to work out new ways to meet without putting lawmakers in danger.
Several members went into self-quarantine after coming in contact with someone who has the virus.
Two lawmakers, House reps Ben McAdams and Mario Diaz-Balart, have tested positive.