"When they see a grassroots movement rising up, from doctors, from scientists, from advocates and patients, you are impossible to ignore … You need to overwhelm the institution with your voices."
The sequester leveled a roughly $1.5 billion cut at the National Institutes of Health this year.
Advocates have warned that reductions and uncertainty in the institute's funding will devastate postpone medical breakthroughs and set research back a generation.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, touted his caucus's sequester replacement bill in his speech Monday.
Both he and DeLauro said cutting tax breaks for wealthy people and repealing oil and gas subsidies could go a long way toward shoring up the federal research budget.
"'Sequester' is just a fancy Washington word for less jobs, less progress, and less hope," Van Hollen said. "This is the United States of America. We need to invest in our future."
The event also featured messages from Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and former Rep. John Porter (R-Ill.), who now leads advocacy alliance Research!America.