Republican lawmakers, emboldened by the election of Paul Ryan as House speaker, are intensifying efforts to extend the 1996 welfare reform to other areas of the safety net.

But before that, they will have to decide where they stand on anti-poverty tax credits backed by President Obama.

'Work is such a powerful weapon to eliminate poverty.'

Lifting people out of poverty was one of the few policy goals Ryan cited in his inaugural speech as speaker, along with more widely publicized GOP agenda items such as tax and healthcare reform.

Ryan has taken a special interest in developing viable Republican ideas for aiding the 47 million people whose income fell below the federal poverty line last year. Ryan began working on the issue after being part of a losing presidential ticket in 2012 that was widely criticized as out of touch with downscale voters.

After laying out a detailed criticism and a reform plan as House Budget Committee chairman last year, he continued advancing legislative ideas during his stint this year as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over many federal anti-poverty programs.

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