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Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to reinstate the death penalty, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President. ... The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
— Attorney General Bill Barr

Why it matters: No federal executions have taken place since 2003 — an informal moratorium as the Justice Department "reviewed its lethal injection protocols," per the Washington Post. In addition to directing the BOP to resume capital punishment, Barr has asked the acting director of the agency to schedule the executions of 5 death-row inmates convicted of murder, beginning on Dec. 9.

The big picture: The updated federal execution protocol ordered by Barr would closely mirror a single-drug procedure used in several states, including currently Georgia, Missouri and Texas. A number of drugmakers that used to supply the 3-drug cocktail used for execution purposes stopped selling them in protest, making it more difficult for states to enforce lethal injections.

  • Capital punishment across the country is largely on the decline, with New Hampshire becoming the 21st to eliminate the death penalty in May. According to a Gallup tracker, 56% of Americans are in favor of the death penalty, down from a peak of 80% in 1994.

Go deeper: Where the death penalty survives around the world

Go deeper

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.

Congress passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 69-28 to pass legislation Thursday night to fund the government until February 18.

Why it matters: The move staves off a government shutdown but lawmakers still have a busy month ahead: Congress needs to work out a deal to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks and Democrats are trying to pass their behemoth social spending bill.

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.