CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Yes, the nation’s debt keeps climbing to almost mindboggling numbers. It’s approaching $32 trillion dollars. That number written out looks like this: $32,000,000,000,000. But U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg told WHO 13 News that the country can’t default on its previous debts while House Republicans try to demand spending cuts from President Joe Biden.

“Let’s not have a self-inflicted economic disaster,” Buttigieg said following an event at the Cedar Rapids Airport, which recognized the new $20 million in federal funding for expansion. “

“That’s what the president has been saying from day one,” he continued. “It’s what I’m hoping these negotiations, these conversations, will produce. What we really need to be negotiating is the details of the budget which you should be negotiating and we are. Let’s take default off the table. Get the job done. And get down to the work on negotiations.”

House Republicans’ push to get concessions from Biden come as the country inches toward June 1, the day that U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin estimates the federal government will not be able to pay its debt. Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling, which would allow additional borrowing to pay those previous debt obligations.

Buttigieg said, “it’s really unthinkable in terms of our economy in what it would do to each and every one of us…to our savings…to our — potentially — jobs…everybody would be impacted. But also, how unnecessary it is. Three times under the last president (Republican Donald Trump), they voted for this, no problem. This is not a debate over how much debt to take on. It’s just whether to pay our bills. The U.S. has always, always paid our bills.”