D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon said yesterday she may be forced to lay off some city government workers and furlough others for two days a week beginning in the spring unless Congress approves $100 million in emergency funds.

"One way or the other, we're going to have to . . . either capture the dollars from the Hill or begin notices of RIFs {reductions in force} or furloughs," she told Washington Post reporters and editors. "If you run out of cash, then you've just got to stop paying people."

Dixon raised the prospects of a government-wide personnel action for the first time yesterday, after a week of meetings with Senate and House members in search of assistance in closing a projected $300 million budget deficit. Her financial advisers previously discounted the effectiveness of layoffs, saying they couldn't be enacted quickly enough to affect the deficit for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

The new mayor also said she will confer with D.C. Council leaders about scrapping a council-approved bill that would hold manufacturers of assault weapons financially liable for violent crimes committed with their products. The bill, subject to congressional review, has drawn sharp criticism from some congressional Republicans, including Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (Va.), the ranking Republican on the House District Committee.

Dixon is concerned that the bill might prove to be an obstacle to gaining congresssional support for the emergency funds.

If Congress doesn't come up with an additional $100 million for the District in the next few months, Dixon said, the city will run out of money, be unable to compensate its employees for a full week's work and have to cut back on essential services.

Along with assistance from Congress, Dixon hopes to save $63 million by getting union and nonunion city workers and school employees to forgo a scheduled pay raise. She also has proposed cutting $130 million from existing programs.

Though many congressional leaders say they respect Dixon and would like to help her, they are pessimistic about providing the District with additional dollars this year in the face of military costs and spending restrictions.

"I am confident we can get money from the Hill," Dixon said. "I am confident we can get the unions to agree."

Franklin D. Raines, one of Dixon's chief financial advisers, met yesterday with about 40 union leaders the mayor hopes will endorse her plan, saying that the Bush administration and key congressional leaders "have embraced {Dixon}. They believe she is real and they are ready to deal with her."

Even so, he added, he figures Dixon has only a 50-50 chance of winning additional funds from the Hill.

Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.), chairman of the House District Committee, has agreed to support legislation to provide the city with additional funds this year and next to offset the deficit, according to Raines. The measure could be introduced as early as next month as an amendment to some other appropriations bill related to federal agency needs arising from the war with Iraq.

"Our hope is that we can get an assurance of the money by April or May," Raines said.

In order for Dixon's plan to work, however, she must also have the support of the unions, and union leaders were skeptical yesterday whether cooperation with the mayor now will save them from further cuts in the future.

"If Congress doesn't give them the $100 million, it comes down on the backs of the working people of Washington," said Roscoe Grant, president of Local 631 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 850 public works and hospital employees. "I'm just wondering whether this is a public relations campaign, saying they're going to Congress . . . . If this government is asking for cooperation, I want to cooperate. But is it an attempt to save money or to downsize government?"

Gizaw Gessesse, acting director of American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, Council 20, which represents 8,300 workers, said the budget session with Raines was a form of "psychological warfare" to get the unions to agree to a pay deferral without bargaining.

"We need to go back to the table to negotiate pay and job security, which the furloughs are part of," he said.

Asked whether the unions will agree to defer the pay raise, Dixon said, "I don't know whether they are publicly accepting it. My sense is they understand the situation and that we don't have a choice."

Ed Kornegay, president of Teamsters 1714, which represents 4,200 correctional workers, said after meeting with Raines that he hoped to be bargaining a contract with the city by the end of the month, and that a pay increase would be a "reasonable request." The pay deferral proposed by Dixon is "definitely not a done deal," he said.

"They're talking on a divine providence attitude: They speak, and it's done," he said. "It's definitely not."

Meanwhile, Raines said that the $300 million figure commonly used to estimate the District's deficit for this year could grow with revenue shortfalls. And Dixon said that the U.S. military operation in the Persian Gulf is already increasing the city's budget as the District is called upon to police demonstrations and provide extra security.