President Obama has nominated Thomas Perez to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.  If confirmed, he will replace Hilda Solis, who left the post in January.  He is the only Hispanic so far to be named to Obama’s second-term Cabinet.

The son of Dominican immigrants who once worked as a garbage collector, Perez had led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division since 2009.  Before taking the job as assistant attorney general, Perez was secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.  If confirmed by the Senate, he would take over the Labor Department as Obama pushes several worker-oriented initiatives, including the overhaul of immigration laws and an increase in the minimum wage.

However, Perez could face opposition from some Republicans who say his tenure at Justice has been guided too much by political ideology.  Senator David Vitter (R-LA)  immediately said he would block the nomination until Republican concerns about Perez’s Justice Department tenure are addressed.  Senator Vitter said he objects to Perez because he enforced Louisiana’s rights laws in a way “that specifically benefits the politics of the president and his administration at the expense of identity security” of registered voters in the state.  Vitter sent a letter to the Justice Department on the subject in 2011, claiming the department made registration of welfare recipients a priority while ignoring a duty to remove ineligible voters from the rolls.   He said he will block the nomination until he receives a response to his letter.

The president also announced that Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank will be stepping down this summer to take the position of chancellor at the University of Wisconsin.  The president has yet to announce a nominee for commerce secretary, an office that has been empty since John Bryson left in June 2012.  Chicago business woman Penny Pritzker has been mentioned as a possible candidate.