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Boehner: Rep. Jackson's condition a matter between him and his constituents

 

House Speaker John Boehner moved Thursday to calm the speculation about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s health, telling reporters it's an issue between him and his constituents. 

"I just wish him well and hope to see him back soon," Boehner said. 

The speaker addressed Jackson's weeks-long absence from the Capitol a day after the congressman's office issued a statement saying he was being treated for a "mood disorder." The statement denied "rumors" that he was in rehab, as the Illinois Democrat faced a growing chorus in Congress calling on him to further explain his absence. 

While Boehner said Thursday the issue is between him and his constituents, other lawmakers have more forcefully urged Jackson to tell his constituents more about his condition. 

Both House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., suggested Wednesday Jackson should clear up the confusion. 

Jackson's office made that attempt Wednesday evening. 

"The congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder," the office said in a statement. "He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery." 

The statement didn't elaborate further, though it denied "rumors about him being treated for alcohol or substance abuse." 

Jackson has been on leave since June 10. His office said at first he was being treated for exhaustion, then fueled speculation with a recent statement saying his condition is "more serious than we thought." 

Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, told Fox News on Thursday that his son is "unwell" and under medical supervision but regaining his strength. He said he hopes the media respect his privacy, and that the congressman will speak about his condition at an "appropriate time." 

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, pushed back Wednesday on the speculation about Jackson's condition, saying he's spoken with the family and "he's fine." 

Cleaver, D-Mo., said all the press attention on Jackson's absence is frustrating. He said, after talking to family members, the congressman is fine and that the family just wants him to get well. 

He likened the situation to having knee surgery, without getting into any specifics about what Jackson's condition is.

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