The calls for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to be more forthcoming about his mysterious absence grew louder Wednesday, as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) shifted his position and urged the Illinois Democrat to disclose the nature of the condition that's keeping him off the Hill.
"Congressman Jackson and his office and his family would be well-advised to advise the constituents of his condition," Hoyer said at a press conference in the Capitol on a different topic. "He's obviously facing a health problem."
Hoyer said Jackson's month-long disappearance is "not an unusual circumstance."
"People get sick, and when people get sick they miss work. Everybody in America understands that," he said. "But I think the family would be well-advised to give his constituents as much information as is appropriate."
The comments mark a change for Hoyer, who a day before had defended Jackson's reticence on disclosing the condition that's taken him out of the public sphere since June 10.
“We all have a responsibility to report to our constituents,” Hoyer said on Tuesday. “They [Jackson's aides] have certainly reported that he is ill and seeking help. And I think that that fulfills that responsibility.”
Jackson's office has issued two statements since the lawmaker went on medical leave, one citing "exhaustion" and the other characterizing a "medical condition ... more serious than we thought and initially believed." He last appeared on the Hill in early June.
With his remarks Wednesday, Hoyer joins a pair of Illinois Democrats — Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Luis Gutierrez — in calling for Jackson to be more candid about his absence.
"I think the people of his congressional district deserve it. The people of Illinois deserve it. If he’s going to stand for reelection, you guys are going to demand it,” Gutierrez said Tuesday in an interview to the Chicago Tribune.
There are strong hints that most of Jackson's colleagues in Congress remain in the dark about his condition.
"Right now, the best thing I can tell you is that we're all hoping that we're going to see Congressman Jackson sooner than later," said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) Tuesday.