Think Tank Watch has learned that the center-left Brookings Institution is in the late stages of a merger deal with the conservative Heritage Foundation to form a new think tank behemoth called "Brookitage."
The deal, a shock to many in the think tank world, could be completed around the end of 2016, according to think tank sources close to the deal.
Assuming the deal is completed, it would be unprecedented for the think tank world, a place where think tanks with competing ideologies generally interact with caution.
A Brookings official tells Think Tank Watch that the deal is being announced in conjunction with the think tank's 100-year anniversary this year.
Brookings is nearing completion of a $600 million fundraising effort as part of its "Second Century Campaign," and it decided that its new vision would include bringing Democrats closer to Republicans, according to people familiar with the talks.
"We cannot afford to be just a liberal think tank in today's polarized political atmosphere," said a senior level Brookings official. "Bringing the most well-known liberal think together with the most well-known conservative think tank would send a huge message to Capitol Hill. Things need to change."
A Heritage Foundation official, speaking on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak about internal negotiations, said that there are some grumblings among senior management about the new name of the think tank. "We just don't want Heritage to lose its identity," she said.
Neither Brookings nor Heritage officials would comment about possible staff reductions or headquarters moves. But one official with knowledge of the discussions said that President Barack Obama is among the top candidates to become president of Brookitage when he steps down in January 2017.
Editor's Note: April Fool's.