Top Republicans denounced a veteran House GOP member's use of a racial slur to describe migrant farm workers, saying such language is not helpful as the party tries to improve its standing with Hispanics.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn all decried Rep. Don Young, who used the term "wetbacks" in a radio interview earlier this week. The Alaska congressman, in office since 1973, said late Thursday he "meant no disrespect" and explained the term was commonly used when he was growing up on a farm in central California.