Asked about news reports that some members of Congress might welcome the sequester as a means of cutting government spending, Cardin said there weren't many who felt that way.
"Most members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, agree that sequestration is wrong," he said. "Even those who believe there should be further discretionary cuts believe they should be selective. They shouldn't be across the board.
"If you have problems with your budget, and you've budgeted to go to the movies and feed your family, and you have a loss of revenue, you don't cut your spending equally. You continue the essentially important services for your family. We can't do that under sequestration."
Cardin told the federal workers that they have been made a "scapegoat for everything."
"It's an attack on government," he said. "It's not an attack on what you do. So go out there and say what you do. And how it's important for what you do to have the certainty of a realistic budget."
He said the majority of Americans "strongly support" the work of the NIH, and want to make sure that it is funded adequately. He urged the workers to make themselves heard.
"We're having a tough time breaking through the divisions that we have in Washington," he said. "And quite frankly, the more that you can do to underscore the importance of the work that you do, I think the stronger the voice will be for a reasonable solution to our fiscal problems that will permit NIH to get the funding it needs."