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Mr. Obama’s limo pulled into a white tent set up near the hotel and connecting with a side entrance, and he was not visible to the press and spectators.

A few dozen spectators, awaiting Mr. Obama’s arrival earlier Sunday evening, mixed with a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at St. John’s Episcopal Church who held a sign saying, “Obama: Palestinians need your help.”

The demonstrators sang a modified version of the protest song “We Shall Overcome,” with lyrics such as “Deep in my heart, I do believe, that Palestine will be free some day.”

The war in Gaza is just one of the unexpected challenges Mr. Obama will face when he takes office. He also faces surprising political fights in the U.S. over vacant Senate posts, one of them being Mr. Obama’s own former seat, now in limbo over the appointment by scandal-tainted Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris.

He has meetings scheduled Monday at the Capitol with congressional leaders of both parties, as he seeks to push for a giant spending bill that he said will create jobs and spur economic growth. Also Monday, he is set to meet with his own economic advisers at his transition office.

Both House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on the Sunday political shows that a bill would not be ready by Jan. 20. Mr. Hoyer said he hoped to send a bill from his chamber to the Senate by the end of the month and have it to the president by mid-February.

Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, agreed, telling reporters that beating an inauguration deadline was “very, very unlikely.” Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama’s meeting Monday is intended to instill a sense of urgency in congressional leaders.

Republicans have said they want to be careful in working on a spending bill. They said they want to see it coupled with spending cuts and to examine the measure closely to make sure it doesn’t include earmarks, the pork-barrel spending projects that lawmakers slip into bills.

Except for trips to Hawaii for vacation and a brief visit with the nation’s governors meeting in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama has spent his transition time in Chicago.

His Cabinet picks had drawn general approval from Democrats and Republicans, though questions have been raised about his pick for attorney general, former Justice Department official Eric Holder, who was involved in approving some of President Clinton’s contentious last-minute pardons.

Mr. Obama did not say anything about whom he would pick to fill the gap in his Cabinet lineup.

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether a firm that has done business with New Mexico was granted improper favors by Mr. Richardson. The firm reportedly donated heavily to Mr. Richardson’s political action committee.

“I and my administration have acted properly in all matters and this investigation will bear out that fact,” the governor said. “But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.”

Mr. Richardson said he will remain as governor. He had earlier served as energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations in Mr. Clinton’s administration, and sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

Hispanic groups had pushed for him to be named to head the State Department, but that position is going to another former Obama rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

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