D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says he’s ready to make a “protracted” case as to why all 32,000 city employees are essential and should stay on the job. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

With congressional Republicans holding firm in their bid to defund Obamacare, a federal shutdown has only gotten more likely — raising the stakes on the District’s moves toward defying it. A day after Mayor Vincent C. Gray told the Obama administration he planned to deem all city employees essential, he called into NewsChannel 8 and said he’s ready to “make a more protracted, extensive case” for that stance. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, meanwhile, doubled down on the everyone-is-essential strategy, circulating emergency legislation that would also allow the city to tap its contingency reserve fund — a tactic backed by the D.C. Appleseed think tank that could provide a legally palatable way to keep the city government going. Even if city leaders were in flagrant violation of the federal Antideficiency Act, it’s not at all clear any sanctions would follow: “I rather doubt that Congress would take punitive actions against the District of Columbia for keeping their personnel on,” said oversight czar Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), according to Roll Call. But if the District’s attorney general, Irvin B. Nathan, continues to warn of dire consequences as he did earlier this week, it’s uncertain that city officials would keep their nerve. So what can you do, District resident? You can don the T-shirt of the moment: “I AM ESSENTIAL AND SO IS STATEHOOD.”

In other news:

Meet Jeff DeWitt, the likely new CFO (PostWRC-TVLoose LipsArizona RepublicWTTG-TVWUSA-TVWNEW-FMDCistWAMU-FM)

Under withering questioning from David Catania, school officials admit they should have publicized test-scoring decision (Post)

Also, Catania is rather displeased with the Post’s editorial page (Loose Lips)

United Medical Center board says it needs another $15 million next fiscal year to embark on turnaround (WBJ)

The old Dunbar High comes tumbling down (PoPvilleWRC-TV@mayorvincegray)

You’re not in trouble if you’re unwittingly riding in a car with an illegal gun, D.C. Court of Appeals rules (Legal Times)

Jonetta Rose Barras says marijuana liberalization is an “inappropriate” way to deal with the “scourge of drugs” (Post column)

Holy cow, a new judge on the D.C. Circuit (Post)

Guilty plea in death of 4-year-old boy (Post)

Taser-wielding thugs stalk robbery victims near Convention Center (PostWRC-TV)

Hack inspector is found to have a criminal record, leading to questions about background checks (WTTG-TV)

Ex-Health Care Finance official acted improperly on contract, IG finds (WBJ)

There are five apps to hail a D.C. cab, and Uber isn’t one of them (WRC-TV)

Circulator service will go on during a shutdown (Dr. Gridlock)

Paid sick days for restaurant workers hasn’t hurt in Seattle (Post)

Six years after its closing, a former Catholic school in Anacostia is ready for new life (GGW)

“This Old House” loves Petworth’s old houses (WTOP)

Kalmia Culvert further deteriorates (Dr. Gridlock)

A rebuilt Union Station opened 25 years ago (Elevation DC)

Major part of Holocaust Museum will be closed for five months (Post)

Behold Michelle Obama’s Washington (Post)

Watch “Caddyshack” outdoors at Union Market next week (WBJ)

It has been “abnormally dry” round these parts (Capital Weather Gang)

But, gee whiz, has the air been clean! (Capital Weather Gang)