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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

  • "If you were just listening on the call, I don't think you would have been able to tell who were the Republicans and who were Democrats and who were independents," said King (I-Maine).

Details: National Economic Council Director Brian Deese led the Sunday afternoon meeting, and several other top White House officials also joined the video call.

  • It was the largest meeting between the Biden administration and senators since Wednesday's inauguration.

What he's saying: "There's absolute consensus" that the administration and Congress' main priority needs to be speeding up the rate of vaccination, King said.

  • The group plans to work closely with the White House to gather data about where the "bottlenecks" are in the current distribution system.
  • King added that the senators asked for data to back up the administration's pandemic proposal. "You know, how did they arrive at the numbers that they have?"

One big question they need to solve, King said, is how much unspent money from the previous coronavirus packages can be reallocated to the Biden package.

Timing: King said that while the administration did not lay out a specific timeframe, there was general consensus that this next stimulus bill should be done sooner rather than later.

  • However, looming in the background is the impeachment trial for former President Trump, which is roughly two weeks away.
  • King said "it would be desirable" to start moving on the next relief package before then, but "whether that's going to be possible I just don't know."

Go deeper

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

Exclusive: Houston mayor to lead Black mayors group

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks during a private funeral for George Floyd. Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez/Pool/Getty Images

The mayor of the city where George Floyd was raised is taking over a group that represents 500 Black mayors in the U.S. amid national pressure to revamp police departments.

Why it matters: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will become the new president of the African American Mayors Association as municipalities across the country examine police reforms and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Delivery industry sees biggest monthly job losses in more than 20 years

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic's biggest job winner is losing steam.

Driving the news: People who deliver packages to businesses and homes — classified as "couriers and messengers" by the Labor Department — saw the industry's biggest monthly job losses in more than 20 years in April.