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U.S. Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to Supreme Court, with Texans Cornyn and Cruz in favor
(Anna Moneymaker/Pool via REUTERS)

By Abby Livingston

WASHINGTON — With the support of Texas' two senators, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote Monday evening.


U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans, were early and robust backers of President Donald Trump's nomination of Barrett. She will fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month. The confirmation process was one of the swiftest in recent memory, and Barrett's ascension is expected to move the court in a more conservative direction.

But it will not come without political and policy consequences. Barrett will be in place to hear the state of Texas' challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled for oral arguments after the Nov. 3 election. And her ascension to the court will likely have long-term implications for legal fights over abortion, immigration, voting rights and many other issues.

Democrats have firmly opposed Barrett's nomination, noting that Republicans in 2016 refused to hold hearings or a vote to confirm President Barack Obama's nomination for the court in an election year. The 2016 opening, Democrats note, came several months earlier in the election cycle than the death of Ginsburg.

Democrats raised hundreds of millions of dollars after Ginsburg died, and millions of campaign dollars poured into the campaigns of down-ballot candidates in Texas, including that of Democratic Senate nominee MJ Hegar, who is challenging Cornyn for the Senate seat he has held for 18 years.

Barrett is Trump's third confirmed nominee of his first term. Cornyn called her "exceptionally qualified" for a seat on the high court.

"I have faith in Judge Barrett's ability to fairly interpret the law and apply it to cases before her," Cornyn said in a statement. "Nothing more and nothing less."

Cruz said Barrett's confirmation "comes at a critical time" for America.

"Confirming Justice Barrett to the Court is a great victory for every American who cares about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our fundamental liberties," Cruz said.

More:

East Austin gains new Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural with community help

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‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

Austin's 7 Best Indian Restaurants

We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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