WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are discussing another possible round of COVID-19 stimulus spending for businesses, seeking to blunt the impact of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Early efforts by Democratic and Republican lawmakers have focused primarily on authorizing billions of dollars to help businesses including restaurants, performance venues, gyms and minor league sports teams, the report said, citing four people familiar with the matter.

The White House declined to comment to the Washington Post, as did two lawmakers cited as behind the talks.

Such a measure, if passed by Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden, would be the latest federal relief package as the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, this time as the Omicron variant sweeps the country.

Biden, a Democrat, approved the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” in March 2021.

Former Republican U.S. President Donald Trump approved nearly $900 billion in coronvirus-related funding into law in December 2020 as part of a larger $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package.

Before that, Congress had passed bills allocating $3 trillion to combat the pandemic that shut down much of the United States in March 2020.

(Writing by Susan Heavey in Washington; additional reporting by Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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