The US House of Representatives last night overwhelmingly approved a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill, funding small businesses and hospitals and pushing the total spending response to the crisis to an unprecedented near $3 trillion. 

The measure passed the Democratic-led House by a vote of 388-5.

House members were meeting for the first time in weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

US politicians, many wearing masks, approved the bill during an extended period of voting intended to allow them to remain at a distance from one another in line with public health recommendations. 

The House action sent the latest of four relief bills to the White House. Republican President Donald Trump also backs the measure.

The Republican-led Senate had passed the legislation on a voice vote on Tuesday.

But threats of opposition by some members of both parties prompted congressional leaders to call the full chamber back to Washington for the House vote despite state stay-at-home orders meant to control the spread of the virus. 

The House also approved a select committee, with subpoena power, to probe the US response to the coronavirus. 

It will have broad powers to investigate how federal dollars are being spent, U.S. preparedness and Trump administration deliberations. 

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the panel was essential to ensure funds go to those who need them and to prevent scams. 

Republicans said the committee was not needed, citing existing oversight bodies, and called the panel's creation another expensive Democratic slap at Trump. The committee was approved on a vote of 212-182, along party lines. 

The $484 billion aid bill was the fourth passed to address the coronavirus crisis.

It provides funds to small businesses and hospitals struggling with the economic toll of a pandemic that has killed almost 50,000 people in the US and thrown 26 million out of work, wiping out all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in US history. 

A handful of lawmakers opposed the legislation, including Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a severely affected area of New York and believes Congress should do even more - and Republican Thomas Massie, known as "Mr. No" for his frequent opposition to spending bills. 

Congress passed the last coronavirus relief measure, worth more than $2 trillion, in March, also with overwhelming support from both parties. It was the largest such funding bill ever passed.

The next step will be harder. The two parties have set the stage for a fight over additional funding for state and local governments reeling from the impact of lost revenue after Republicans refused to include such funds in the current relief bill. 

Trump has said he supports more funding for states, and has promised to back it in future legislation. 

Congressional Republicans have resisted. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested in a radio interview earlier this week that states could go bankrupt, but said later he did not want states to use federal funds for anything unrelated to the coronavirus. 

Yesterday's voting took place under safety protocols that considerably dragged out proceedings. Lawmakers came to the House in alphabetical order in small groups and were told to stand in line, 1.8 metres apart, before entering the chamber. 

There was also a half-hour break scheduled to clean the chamber between the two votes. But more than a dozen cleaners descended on the chamber with cloths and spray bottles and wiped it down in less than 10 minutes.