The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Data: Pew Research CenterDeath Penalty Information Center; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Where it stands: Over half of U.S. states that authorize the death penalty haven't used it in at least 5 to 10 years, according to Pew data.

  • 7 states put 22 people to death in 2019, primarily in Texas, according to year-end data from the nonprofit advocacy group Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
  • 2019 was America's fifth consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions, per BJS and DPIC data.
  • 3 people have been executed in 2020: One in Texas, one in Tennessee and the latest in Alabama, per DPIC.

Driving the news: Five executions scheduled by the Justice Department are postponed, after the Supreme Court refused to overturn a federal judge's decision that renewing federal capital punishment could violate the Federal Death Penalty Act, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • The January executions of Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken — originally set for Jan. 13 and 15 — have been paused as the injunction against the DOJ's execution renewal works through lower courts.
  • The execution of Lezmond Mitchell was blocked separately by the San Francisco federal appeals court over an ongoing review of possible anti-Native American bias in his case, AP reports.

Of note: Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the DOJ's newly scheduled executions to be carried out with only one drug, pentobarbital. The U.S. government has historically used a three-drug cocktail for lethal injections, per the DPIC — which carry a fraught history.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the sedative midazolam, when used in a three-drug combo for executions, does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
  • The court's decision followed a botched Oklahoma execution in 2014 that took 40 excruciating minutes and induced a heart attack in the condemned. The Supreme Court had not debated the painlessness of those drugs since 2008, per the Washington Post.
  • The DOJ declared in May that the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to regulate drugs used to carry out the death penalty.

Go deeper: Where the death penalty survives around the world

Go deeper

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding after funding expired briefly, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Why it matters: The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

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In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1,700 firefighters are battling 26 major wildfires across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 3.9 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.