Freshman Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina missed a hearing last week with senior Pentagon leaders on the threat of Islamic State militants. Instead, he got insights on the group from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Tillis was absent from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, where Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to tough questioning. Tillis' office confirmed Wednesday the senator was meeting with Cheney at the time but said that Cheney is one of the country's top experts on national security matters.

Tillis unseated Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan last November. During his campaign, he sharply criticized Hagan for what he called a poor attendance records at Armed Services Committee meetings related to the Islamic State.