Sen. Durbin expects voters to ‘stand behind’ Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) said Sunday he expected voters in his home state to continue supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. despite questions surrounding his absence from Congress. 

Jackson, a nine-term Democrat, has been on medical leave for more than a month. His office said only that he is being treated for "mood disorder," and staffers disputed reports Jackson is being treated for alcohol addiction. 

Durbin said Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," that Jackson should clarify the matter "very soon."  But he added that the absence did not mean Jackson's political career was over.  

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"I called Rev. Jackson, his father, this week and said that our prayers are with his son's family," Durbin said. "We want him to get well and get home soon.”

Durbin praised fellow Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R), whose office has provided regular updates on his recovery from a stroke.

“I think my colleague Sen. Kirk has set the right standard by talking about his rehabilitation and the progress he's making. I hope very, very soon that Congressman Jackson can tell us what he's facing."  

Durbin said Jackson would be rewarded politically for opening up about his medical issues because "the people of Illinois and this country are going to embrace anything he is doing to put himself in a good strong position to return to his family and to Congress. 

"Members of Congress in both parties, men and women, go through a lot of trials, physical and mental trials, and they emerge from them stronger," he said. "The American people and the people of Illinois will stand behind a congressman who is facing his issues head on and they'll support him." 

Questions over Jackson grew this past week, with Democratic leaders split over whether he should be more forthcoming about his month-long absence from Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Jackson should face no pressure over when to disclose his condition and said the timing should be dictated only by “his healthcare needs.”

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) , however, said Jackson would be “well-advised” to provide more details quickly and that his constituents deserved to know more. 

Jackson’s office has issued two statements since he was last seen on the Hill in early June, one claiming “exhaustion” and a second which said he was suffering from a “medical condition ... more serious than we thought and initially believed.”