Sen. Durbin: Jesse Jackson Jr. should explain his health situation

PHOTO: Jesse Jackson Jr.

Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday put public pressure on fellow Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. to explain what is preventing him from serving in the House.

"As a public official, there comes a point when you have a responsibility to tell the public what's going on," Durbin said at an event in Chicago. "If there is some medical necessity for him not to say more at this moment than I will defer to that. But he will have to soon make a report on what he's struggling with."

On June 25, Jackson's office first revealed that the  congressman had been on a "medical leave of absence" from Congress for exhaustion since June 10. No additional details were offered until July 5, when Jackson's staff announced that the congressman was at an "inpatient medical facility" and his undisclosed condition was "more serious" than originally assumed.

Monday's statement from Durbin, the Senate majority whip, marks the most forceful public comment on Jackson's situation from his state party delegation.

Jackson's Republican and independent opponents in his 2nd District race have been publicly calling for more information since Jackson first revealed his situation.

"If I didn't show up for work for 15 days, there's a good chance that when I did try to make a call in, somebody's going to say, 'Yeah, we thought you were done. We went ahead and replaced you,'" Republican Brian Woodworth told Chicago's local NBC affiliate last week. "So I think he had an obligation to report whatever he's going through earlier."

Like some of Jackson's opponents, Durbin on Monday compared the congressman's situation to that of Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who in early May offered the public a deeply personal look via a Web video at his difficult recovery from an ischemic stroke.

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