U.S. Senate will likely approve a bill later this week that would spur small-business lending by providing financial incentives to banks that make loans to smaller companies, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Republican Senators George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.) joined Senate Democrats to give the bill what will likely be the 60 votes needed to pass, the newspaper said. Passing such a bill would be the most important action by Congress since it passed last year's economic-stimulus bill, the Journal said, citing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The bill is a response to small businesses that have complained that they can't get financing to hire more workers and expand operations, according to the Journal. Banks would need to volunteer to be part of the proposed program.

In addition to bank-lending incentives, the bill would provide some small-business tax credits, including the ability to write off health-insurance costs, the Journal reported.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Intro to different retirement accounts

What does it mean to have a 401(k)? IRA?

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »