WASHINGTON — Robert G. Damus, a civil servant who was instrumental in devising budget control legislation, including the deficit reduction laws of 1993 and 1995 and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, has died.
Damus, general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget since 1994, died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 55.
He was among the rare federal officers to operate at that level under successive Republican and Democratic administrations. Damus was born in San Bernardino and grew up in California and Colorado, where he worked on a ranch during summers. He graduated from Harvard University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and captain of the fencing team. After Harvard, he studied economics in England at Cambridge University's St. John's College, where he won first class honors. He also graduated from Harvard University Law School.
Damus began his legal career as a lecturer at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, then in 1973 practiced law in Los Angeles. For five years he was a litigator on cases involving large corporations.
He found that work tedious, and in 1980 moved to Washington and took a job as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, where he remained until joining the Office of Management and Budget in 1985 as assistant general counsel. He later was named deputy general counsel.
Survivors include his wife, Pam, a son, David, and a daughter, Elizabeth; his mother, Margo Damus of San Bernardino; and a brother, Paul.