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Democratic Leaders Pressure Jesse Jackson Jr. to Open Up About Ailment

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
When asked about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s mysterious health problem, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (above) said the lawmaker should provide his constituents with more details.

Updated: 2:32 p.m.

The drumbeat for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to divulge more about his medical condition got louder today, as House Democratic leaders joined the call for him to inform voters and his colleagues about his leave of absence as soon as he can.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told reporters that the “time is right” for Jackson to tell his constituents about his predicament after he has an evaluation from doctors, according to a transcript provided by her office.

“The time is right when Congressman Jackson has an evaluation of what his situation is and I’m sure then he will share it with his constituents,” Pelosi said. “Our prayers are with his family. I hope that we will hear soon that he is on the way to recovery. He’s a valued Member of Congress.”

And one day after he told reporters he believed Jackson had disclosed enough information about a mysterious health condition that has kept him from the Capitol since June 10, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) said Jackson should come clean.

“Let me just deal with this briefly in this way. I think Congressman Jackson and his office and his family would be well advised to advise the constituents of his condition,” Hoyer said today.

Jackson took a leave of office for “exhaustion” on June 10. On Thursday, his office said the Illinois Democrat will receive in-patient treatment, as the unknown condition is believed to be worse than previously thought.

“Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time,” Jackson’s office said.

Other Illinois Democrats — including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rep. Luis Gutierrez — have said it would be better for Jackson to disclose his condition.

Both Hoyer and Pelosi made their remarks in response to questions about Jackson asked at press conferences.

Hoyer appeared annoyed that Jackson’s health condition was distracting from the purpose of the event, his “Make It In America” initiative which consists of a series of bills designed to boost American manufacturing.

When a reporter asked him, in the first question of the press conference, about Jackson, Hoyer said: “This is about Make It In America.”

When another reporter pressed him on Jackson with the second question, Hoyer then called for Jackson to “advise his constituents” of his condition.

A Jackson spokesman declined to comment on the leaders’ calls.

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