City officials "have the rosary beads going" as they fret over whether Congress will give them the authority to issue deficit reduction bonds before the district needs cash in August, said Ellen M. O'Connor, the city's deputy mayor for finance.

Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon proposed the $332 million bond issue as a means of eliminating both the city's accumulated deficit and its need to make costly short-term borrowings. But the bonds issue must be approved by Congress because the city's charter currently forbids their use.

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