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

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 12,785,483 — Total deaths: 566,210 — Total recoveries — 7,033,187Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 3,278,946 — Total deaths: 135,029 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
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  5. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  6. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."
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Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

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The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' aggressive push to fully reopen schools this fall is "malfeasance and dereliction of duty," accusing the Trump administration of "messing with the health of our children."

Why it matters: Trump has demanded that schools reopen as part of his efforts to juice the economy by allowing parents to return to work, despite caution from health officials that little is known about how the virus impacts children.