March 18, 2020 / 3:08 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate to pass coronavirus bill, stay to work on more aid -McConnell

(Adds details on further aid, voting procedures)

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expects the chamber on Wednesday to pass an economic relief bill already approved by the House of Representatives, and then work on legislation aimed at aiding small businesses, giving Americans money directly and helping some industries during the coronavirus crisis.

"So while I will support the House bill in order to secure emergency relief for some workers, I will not adjourn the Senate until we have passed a far bolder package that must include significant relief for small businesses all across our country," McConnell said on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday. "Everybody understands we aren't leaving until we deliver it."

McConnell said the bill that senators were drafting would provide an "historic injection of liquidity and access to credit" for small businesses, while loosening the bureaucracy for lenders working with the federal government.

Lawmakers are also looking at the "best pathway to put money directly in the hands of the American people... as quickly as possible" and "targeted relief for key industries that are shouldering an outsized burden from the public health directives," McConnell said.

The bill will include measures to get "more tools in the hands of healthcare providers, removing barriers to treatment, and helping researchers develop therapeutics and vaccines," he said.

To prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus amongst themselves, he urged Senators to enter the chamber later on Wednesday, vote on the House bill, and then leave so "we don't have gaggles of conversation here on the floor."

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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